16 December 2014
Are We Losing the Arts at Community College? Is it a Failure? My initial question: Are funding visual and performing art classes important at the community college level? Should more money be made available to departments so more classes can be made available, or should focus be given to core classes such as English, math, science, and history? Before conducting my survey I also wanted to see the difference in classes that used to be offered in colleges around the area. I used data from archived class schedules from Pasadena City College, Rio Hondo College, East Los Angeles College, and Cerritos College. Once I performed my survey and gathered my data I began to figure out if the visual and performing arts are beneficial to students; if so, what are ways more classes can be offered.
Classes Offered Spring 2008 versus 2014
Classes Offered 2010 and 2011 versus 2014
With the exception of Rio Hondo College, the majority of colleges have lost classes over the years. ELAC has lost 91% of visual and performing art classes, PCC has lost almost 150% of classes, and compared to the amount of total classes Cerritos used to offer, the school has lost 126%. With these numbers I walked around campus and asked students my question. I first asked what the student’s major was, so that I could get a diverse group for the survey.
The first person I asked, Bobby Torres is a Pharmacy Technician major. He says that he thinks the little money community colleges have should be used so that students can complete their general education requirements. When I asked him, “What about the ‘Arts and Humanities’ section of the IGETC (Intersegment General Education Transfer Curriculum), those classes are considered part of visual and performing art departments.” He replied, “As long as there are just enough classes so that people can fulfill the requirement, but the school shouldn’t give extra money to those classes.” Another student I interviewed, Penny (who did not wish to give her last name), is a nurse major. She says that if people want to take those kind of things [dance, music], they should go to a specialized school or a studio that offers only those subjects. I asked her, “If a student cannot afford to go to a private studio, what should they do?” She said, “Get a career.” I was beginning to think that maybe students did not care about this topic. The next few students I interviewed showed me that people do think it is a cause for concern.
Carlos Holguin, Liberal Arts major, says that it is important for community colleges to offer a variety of subjects. “Not everyone who goes to a junior college is there to transfer or get a degree. Some are here because they want to try new things and broaden their knowledge. People who can’t afford to pay thirteen dollars per class at a studio can pay twenty-two dollars for eighteen weeks.” He also brought to my attention the fact that physical education classes have also dwindled in recent years and that this too affects people. “I take yoga [at Cerritos] because it calms me down and keeps me from stressing out about my classes.” Another student, Mary Cornero, an ultrasound technician who is taking extra math classes to get licensed, echoes the statement made by Holguin. “I read somewhere that art and music can actually help students do better in English and math. So I think that it would be good to have more classes. I mean if it helps students isn’t that the point of going to school?” Mary makes a great point that can be studied further. Do performing and visual arts help students perform better?
Many educators believe there is stock to that statement. In a study conducted in 2012, educators found that students who participated in a music or art class and had more exposure to performing and visual art classes performed better in their academic classes. The Arts Education Partnership Association found that students have better